'We May Be Small But...': Maldivian President Muizzu Takes Jibe At India

Muizzu came to power in November 2023 and visited China for the first time as a president. During his visit, Muizzu signed 20 agreements with the Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu.

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu returned home on Saturday from a five-day state visit to China and asserted that despite being a small nation, "it doesn't give them the license to bully us" hinting at the recent diplomatic row with India.

Muizzu is a pro-China leader and has participated in Anto-India movements earlier reportedly said, "We may be small but this doesn't give them the license to bully us."

"Though we have small islands in this ocean, we have a vast exclusive economic zone of 900,000 square km. Maldives is one of the countries with the biggest share of this ocean,” he added.

Further Muizzu aiming at India said, "This ocean does not belong to a specific country. This (Indian) Ocean also belongs to all countries situated in it."

 "We aren’t in anyone’s backyard. We are an independent and sovereign state,” said the Maldivian president to the local media.

Muizzu came to power in November 2023 and visited China for the first time as a president. During his visit, Muizzu signed 20 agreements with the Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In their joint statement post-agreement, they stated, "The two sides agree to continue firmly supporting each other in safeguarding their respective core interests."

It also added, "China firmly supports the Maldives in upholding its national sovereignty, independence and national dignity, respects and supports the Maldives' exploration of a development path that suits its national conditions, and firmly opposes external interference in the internal affairs of the Maldives."

According to PTI report, Muizzu’s visit to China was marred by the diplomatic row with India over derogatory remarks by his ministers against Prime Minister Modi and the release of a report by the EU Election Observation Mission of Maldives that said the ruling coalition of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the People's National Congress (PNC) deployed anti-India sentiments and attempted to spread disinformation in the 2023 presidential elections in which Muizzu won.

The EU report cast a shadow over Muizzu’s Presidential election last November as he contested as part of PPM headed at that time by former pro-China President Abdullah Yameen, who is currently serving a prison sentence for corruption.

Muizzu's visit to China

Muizzu also mentioned that China has granted USD 130 million in assistance to his country. He reportedly said, “That is approximately USD 130 million in grants. This will be spent on developmental projects. The biggest spending will be on the development of the roads of Male."

He was the former Mayor of the capital city before getting elected to the Presidency in November last year.

Also, China’s Ambassador to Maldives Wang Lixin said Maldives will receive support for more development projects from Beijing if they align with President Xi’s initiatives, reported PTI. 

During Muizzu’s visit to Beijing, the two countries signed a USD 50 million agreement to develop an integrated tourism zone in Hulhumale’ besides building 30,000 social housing units in Rasmale’.

According to media reports, China will also provide grant assistance for the development of a 100-bed tertiary hospital in Vilimale’, the report said.

The India-built Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in Male is regarded as the biggest in the country. The 300-bed hospital was built in 1992 by India well before China made its presence in the island nation with infrastructure projects. The IGMH was remodified with Indian assistance in 2018 with the addition of more diagnostic and treatment facilities. 

During Muizzu’s visit to China, the two countries also signed an agreement to allow Maldives’ national airline, Maldivian, to conduct domestic flight operations in China.